I am a staunch liberal Democrat and I always have been. My political beliefs have made me the butt of jokes at holiday dinners, gotten me into politically charged arguments in college, and helped me focus my voice here on the Odyssey. But being secure in my Democratic beliefs does not mean I poo-poo and rule out Republicans and their politics altogether; I'm not ignorant.
When I was in fifth grade and I watched President Obama's inauguration on a projection screen in my elementary school's APR, I fell in love with both that man and politics. How could you have fallen in love with politics then? You were 11! First of all, this is about me and John McCain and not you so don't make this about you and how you don't understand glorifying for the sake of stylistic tone, thank you.
Maybe I didn't fall in love with politics in the sense that I began campaigning for more breadsticks in the cafeteria or longer recesses in the fall and spring when it was nice out, but I was a curious and obnoxious kid and after watching Obama's inauguration (and how happy it seemed to have made my mom and my teachers), I began to ask more questions about what it all meant (by all, I mean the presidency and how our government works and etc.).
I grew up in a house with a Democratic mother and a Republican father, both of whom were secure enough in their political beliefs to not enforce theirs on one another. I heard both sides of every debate, saw the merits and detriments of each argument, and ultimately made the decision of which side I would take for myself (basically, I was one of those assholes in high school who claim to be socially liberal but fiscally conservative).
In the most roundabout way, I could say this, I've kept my finger on the pulse of politics growing up and I've learned how to listen to the other side, even if it radically went against what I believed. Through it all, I've agreed with some people on some things, disagreed with the same people on others, cursed some politicians to hell, and stopped just short of building a shrine to others. Through it all, despite remaining a staunch liberal Democrat now into my twenties, I've maintained the highest level of respect for Senator John McCain.
Why? Because he was a good person.
It seems, almost glaringly so since the 2016 Election, that it is often times hard to remain a good person in politics. And yet, Senator McCain did just that. More than just remaining a good man, he remained true to his own system of beliefs, not blindly stumbling along with his party's voice. Although he was a conservative Republican, he often made attempts to reach across the aisle and promoted a more bipartisan government, even in planning his own funeral.
Millennials, Gen Zs: he wasn't just called a maverick one time and SNL kept it going for fun. He was labeled a maverick because consistently, he voted how he voted, like your wildcard friend who always has a dissenting say in where you go out to eat. He was his own person, but he was so in a way that brought people together rather than promoting the riffs that already existed between them.
Why am I trying to sell home the point that Senator McCain shouldn't be defined in death by partisan bullshit, despite dying in a period of America's history rife with partisan bullshit? Because the day after his death, I saw an old friend posted an image of themselves holding up their middle finger with the caption, "RIP John McCain!" and I didn't say anything then, and it has been eating at me ever since.
Last October, my grandfather died after an arduous fight with cancer. My grandfather, who voted Republican in every single election of his life except for 2016; my grandfather, who served his country not during wartime like McCain did but through his life's work in law enforcement and the New York judicial system; my grandfather, whose vibrant and full life was too snuffed out by something as cruel and apathetic and devastating as cancer; my grandfather, who John McCain often reminded me of.
Cancer is blind. It doesn't care who it takes hold of, the life its host body has lived or things it still has left to do. Cancer doesn't give a shit about your political beliefs or your party lines. It just takes everything in its path. You might not have sided with anything Senator McCain did or said, which is fine (if that's the case, however, I implore you to open your mind a little bit more and see what you can learn from others). You might have just stopped short of making Senator McCain a shrine, which is a little creepy but still all good. You might not have cared less about politics recently, and I guess that's okay, too; you do you.
But do not, as some people are trying to, try to make John McCain's death about anything political or partisan. If he had been your friend, father, or grandfather, you wouldn't want anyone else to.